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How to know if you should get screened for lung cancer


(Amanda Gardner/ — Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States. In fact, it has one of the lowest survival rates of all cancers: Only 17% of people are alive five years after being diagnosed with lung cancer.

That disheartening stat is due at least in part to the fact that until recently, there was no good screening protocol to detect early-stage lung cancer. Most lung cancers were detected at later stages, which are harder to treat.

“Early detection is incredibly important,” says Mara Antonoff, MD, assistant professor in the department of thoracic and cardiovascular surgery at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. “Stage 1 lung cancer with no symptoms is often curable by surgery alone. With stage 4, the five-year survival is under 5%.”

Now, finding early-stage lung cancer before symptoms show up is possible, with low-dose CT scans, called LDCT. (…)

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